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UC helping to mitigate risk for historic buildings

UC helping to mitigate risk for historic buildings

A University of Canterbury (UC) researcher is part of a world-wide research group investigating the seismic vulnerability of New Zealand’s historic churches and buildings.

UC Civil and Natural Resources Engineering research fellow, Dr Sonia Giovinazzi, says the project will analyse the seismic vulnerability of several churches in New Zealand cities.

The group also involves researcher Dr Tatiana Goded from GNS Science as well as researchers from the University of Auckland, New Zealand Historic Places Trust, University of Minho in Portugal and the University of Genoa in Italy. IT recently received research funding from the Earthquake Commission (EQC) to support its work.

“Our ultimate aim is to identify the most vulnerable churches and heritage buildings and to help identifying the best strategies to retrofit them aiming to mitigate damage in the event of future earthquakes,” Giovinazzi.

“This project is seen as a first step towards the qualification of all historic buildings in the country, in order to preserve New Zealand’s cultural and historical heritage.”

The research group will employ a simplified approach using vulnerability indexes and damage indexes calibrated on vulnerability and post-earthquake damage assessment of churches and heritage buildings mainly in Europe.

“This method has been applied around Europe with successful results, especially in the case of churches, and we hope the same will be the case in New Zealand.

“We will use damage data for 48 unreinforced masonry churches in the Canterbury region following the February 2011 earthquake, as well as structural data for other unreinforced masonry churches around the country.

“The results of this project will considerably improve our understanding of the behaviour of historic churches during the Canterbury Earthquakes and will inform the decision-making to make similar buildings in New Zealand structurally sound.”

The final project will be presented at the world conference on earthquake engineering held in Santiago, Chile in 2016, as well as at the New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineering’s annual meeting in 2015. It is expected that a paper will also be published.


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